A second-half brace from Edinson Cavani has given Napoli a 2-1 victory over Cagliari this evening at the San Paolo.
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Cavani opened the scoring on 49 minutes from a spot-kick, before Robert Acquafresca equalised proceedings eight minutes later. The lead was restored just after the hour mark by the Uruguayan international, finding the back of the net for the 22nd time this campaign.
Both sides started tentatively, preferring to shore up their defences and settle into the match with time on the ball rather than immediately attack.
The first real chance on goal came from Daniele Conti, when he controlled Davide Biondini's cross, and spun 180 degrees to shoot, but his shot was wide of the mark.
Acquafresca had a wonderful chance to open the scoring on 16 minutes as he timed his run to perfection. Fabiano Santacroce made the tactical error of advancing too high up the pitch, and a lobbed ball fell to the striker's feet, who sprinted toward goal, but failed to hit the target.
A lobbed pass by Marek Hamsik found Cavani, whose first-time header fell into the path of Ezequiel Lavezzi, but the Argentine dragged his shot across goal just after the half-hour mark.
Napoli began the second half on a mission to score, and were almost rewarded after only a minute. Lavezzi's squaring ball almost found Cavani open in space, but Biondini arrived a tad earlier and cleared the ball away.
The Partenopei were then awarded a penalty moments later, as Lorenzo Ariuado dragged Lavezzi down in the penalty area, and the ref pointed to the spot. Cavani's 49th minute spot-kick went low and to the left, sending Michael Agazzi the wrong way to make it 1-0.
With the crowd getting into the match, the home side lifted, and went more on the assault.Acquafresca, though, had other ideas, as a routine cross from the right by Cossu spotted the forward in the middle on 57 minutes. Heading the ball to his advantage, he followed up his efforts by slotting the ball home in between Morgan De Sanctis' legs to equalise proceedings.
The match remained level for four minutes, as Hamsik's chip forward saw Cavani beat the offside trap and lob his shot over the advancing goalkeeper to restore the lead and score his second goal of the evening.
'El Matador' almost turned provider for Hamsik as he threaded a ball through for the Slovakian, but the midfielder could not direct his shot on target.
Having only been introduced minutes earlier for Hamsik, Giuseppe Mascara almost assured victory for the Azzurri, but his header from an Andrea Dossena cross only hit the post.
With a tense ending in sight, Cossu's free-kick was delivered into the middle, but a staunch Partenopei defence held firm, and ensured their 10th home victory this term.
The win moves the Azzurri back into third place on 59 points, after being overtaken by Udinese earlier in the day.